Successful Launch for Ka-band ViaSat-1

ViaSat announced that International Launch Services successfully launched Viasat-1 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a Proton M launch vehicle at 11:48 a.m. PDT, Oct. 19. The spacecraft separated from the launch vehicle at 9 p.m. and its signal was acquired shortly thereafter. Both the north and south solar arrays have been deployed.

ViaSat says ViaSat-1 is the highest capacity satellite in the world. As noted in "Satellite Update" in this week's RF Report, the satellite has 1.5 GHz of Ka-band downlink spectrum and the same amount of Ka-band uplink spectrum. The system includes the ViaSat SurfBeam 2 ground system, which is already being used in Europe to provide high speed broadband over Eutelsat's KA-SAT.

Mark Dankberg, chairman and CEO of ViaSat, said, "The launch of ViaSat-1 is the result of a fantastic team effort by all of the 2,000-plus people at ViaSat. We've come a long, long way, and we believe this satellite, combined with the skills and resources we've assembled throughout the company, will give a big boost to the satellite industry and our customers. The ViaSat-1 launch is a big step in fulfilling our vision for advanced Ka-band networks. We aim to begin consumer service by the end of 2011, and in-flight WiFi service on JetBlue next year, along with several other new, exciting applications."

ILS President Frank McKenna added, "It is always an honor to be entrusted to launch any of our customers' satellites on ILS Proton. With ViaSat-1, it is especially so, as we support ViaSat's innovative business plan for expanded high-speed broadband services with the launch of the most powerful all Ka-band satellite ever built. On behalf of ILS and Khrunichev, we congratulate ViaSat on achieving this milestone in enhancing the availability and quality of high-speed broadband across North America and Hawaii."

The satellite will provide new, high-speed broadband services for WildBlue in the U.S. and Xplornet through Telesat in Canada.

If one of ViaSat's customers, perhaps WildBlue, is able to offer a vehicle-mounted antenna for accessing ViaSat-1, it could revolutionize SNG operations, providing an alternative to large SNG trucks for bringing back news from remote locations in the continental U.S. or Hawaii. While the huge amount of bandwidth available on the 1.5 GHz of bandwidth from ViaSat-1 will allow very high data rates, the latency inherent in satellite communications will make it difficult to use the capacity for some applications, including VPN, VoIP, and gaming.

This week the satellite is being raised to geostationary orbit. Once in place, the antenna reflectors will be deployed and in-orbit testing can start. Testing is expected to last 60 days, after which the ViaSat-1 will be transferred from Space Systems/Loral to ViaSat. After in orbit testing is completed, the satellite will be moved to its authorized location at 115 degrees west longitude (WL).

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack.
A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.